291 Women sterilised

In Tibet today, it is a very sorry picture for women. The most natural phenomenon of becoming a mother has to be authorised and sanction sought. Dreams of parents who want more than one or two child is crushed. Various cases of women fined for pregnancy, pregnancy being forced to terminate, forced sterilisation is becoming a common day ritual. This is becoming an alarming issue as it threatens the survival of Tibetan people coupled with the massive transfer of Chinese population in Tibet.

291 women within the past few years underwent sterilisation in Madiu township under Nagchu Region of the “Tibet Autonomous Region”. In 1996 alone, 53 women were sterilised. These figures came out in the official Chinese newspaper “Tibet Daily” of 4 August, 1997 edition.

The Nomads of the region are educated about the importance of birth control for the prosperity of the nation and family. This is based on these books, “Tibet Autonomous Region Provisional Birth Control Policy” and “Resolution to generate the Birth Control Policy and prevention of premarital birth studying the marriage law”. These are distributed specifically as guidelines for the proper implementation of the Policy.

Of the eleven villages under the Madiu township, 50 percent of the women population are of the child-bearing age.

The various Offices of the township, Peoples’ Government and Women Association has built awareness within the people about the importance of birth control. The Birth Control Office has established a special committee for the implementation of this policy.

The Committee has even honored those women who “accepted to conform to the principles of the policy” resulting in a total of 291 women having undergone sterilisation within the past few years. In 1996, the birth rate of the region was 16.78% which compared to 1990 census has dropped by 3.72%. Therefore, the entire population of the region has decreased by 2.08% compared to the 1990 population census.

This report coincides with an account by a recent arrival from Tibet on China’s birth control policy. She herself underwent the rules laid down by the policy. She reported that the child bearing age legalised for Chinese women is 21, whereas it is 18, for Tibetan women. Every pregnant woman is required to declare her pregnancy or she will face the consequences of being refused the legal document of registration (citizenship) and ration card. The government officials are allowed to have just one child, whereas the farmers can have two but not more. The informant herself was 18 years old when she delivered her first child and she had to pay 2000 yuan to the officials of the birth control office. She was not aware of the policy when she became pregnant.

However, her son still does not have the identity certificate which implies that he cannot attend schools nor enjoy any rights that are laid down by the government. The age gap between the first child and the second should be 6 years failing of which will mean another fine ranging from 500-2000 yuan.

After every second child born they will conduct the forced contraceptive method, preferably the intra-uterine device method. They are not educated on the implications and consequences of such a method. The informant was concerned about few women in her village who has bad cramps, and there are some cases of dangerous complicatons due to this IUD. Some of the device inserted get rusted due to negligence and other cases where flesh grew around the coil. With the insertion of this metal women can not do hard labour which is a part of their peasant life. They often suffer severe pain around their hips and abdomen.

Those working in the government undergo a more easier method of insertion of a pill in the arm, which is expensive but has no side effects nor pain. Some people in the village side who have no knowledge about the entire policy conceive their third child and when government officials come for checkings they will either have to pay a huge fine or have the child aborted, some of them even in their 8th month.

For many Tibetans they are not aware of the implication of this policy. They feel that the policy is also implemented in China so it is not a special occurrence. However, they are not aware of the difference in the population of China and Tibet. Not aware that this could marginalise ominous state.

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